Cooperative members laud Tomborungus Mini Carnival
September 27, 2023
Cooperatives play a crucial role in rural communities, offering numerous benefits and addressing various challenges faced by rural populations. It typically contributes significantly to the economic development of rural communities.
By pooling resources and combining efforts, cooperatives enable small-scale farmers, artisans, and other rural entrepreneurs to access markets, negotiate better prices, and compete more effectively.
Several participants when interviewed during the recent District-level Cooperative and Entrepreneur Mini Carnival in Kudat 2023, organised by the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives (MEDAC) said it was an exciting event that could help boost the rural cooperatives in Kudat, among others.
Inonsiha Uhou, 56, from Kg. Bondu, a rural cooperative in Kudat, agreed saying that she was very excited about joining the carnival as it enabled her to sell her handmade wares.
Selling her very own handmade coconut oil and ground spices, as well as handicrafts such as bangles, she says this was her first participation in a carnival organised by the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives (MEDAC).
Inonsiha (left), Sabturana, Jinopina (right).
“The carnival is a grander scale than a tamu which I attend here some Wednesdays. With the carnival I managed to sell quite a number of my wares early in the morning,” she shared.
Mimiwati Binti Sakaria and Indah Diana who are members of the Tagaroh Community Cooperative Berhad, of Kg Tagaroh were very enthusiastic about the carnival and opened up their booth early in the morning.
“I make bosou (preserved fish and vegetables) as well as Kerepek (banana crackers). I learnt to do this in 2019 and became a member of the cooperative. During the Covid-19 pandemic and movement restrictions order (MCO) I stayed at home and made more bosou, and also experimented on product innovations,” Miniwati shared.
According to her, the carnival enabled her to strengthen her connection with the local community, especially with cooperative members from other villages, so they could exchange views and knowledge in packaging and labeling among others.
Jinopina Boning, 48, member of Kopunagan Cooperatives of Kg. Kopunagan said that she was excited about the carnival and had been looking forward to it for several weeks.
Mimiwati and Indah.
Her specialty was preserved clams and crackers, which were quite popular among the local community, especially in Kudat.
“Clams are plentiful where I live, so I harvest them and learnt to preserve them. The preserved clams are good for two months, but if the lid is opened, it is better to keep it in the fridge,” she said, adding that she also sold live clams as there were customers who preferred the fresh live ones.
During the interview, her live clams had sold out and the preserved ones were almost sold out.
“I am very happy with the carnival and hope that it will be held periodically so cooperative members can earn a living outside of what we earn from our homes,” she stressed.
Sabturana Sahikal, 30, from Kg Muhibbah Kalasahan Sikuati agreed saying that her wares were placed in her house, where several of her customers would come by to buy her wares.
“I sell sambal chilli and also baskets that I wove myself. The sambal chilli seems to be more popular though,” she shared, adding that this was her first participation in a carnival and the experiences that she had were tremendous.
She is a member of Entrepreneurship Cooperative of Muhibbah Kalasahan Sikuati Berhad.
Norini Bonong, 41, of Rini Craft Enterprise sold beautifully crafted and decorated baskets and bags during the carnival.
“I learnt to make these baskets and bags during the Covid-19 Pandemic, especially during the MCO. I was in the house and I had this inspiration to value add baskets and bags,” she shared adding that she managed to create these items that became popular with enthusiasts.
“This is my first participation in a carnival for cooperatives and I am very excited and enthusiastic with the results. The area is neatly arranged with lots of space for customers to mingle around.
“I hope that more of such events will be carried out in the future and that we will be able to participate again,” the young lady who is a member of the Kopunagan Cooperatives of Kg. Kopunagan.
The school cooperative of SMK Kebangsaan Pitas 2 Bhd was also present and was represented by a Form Six student Dowie Milnny Johnny, 19.
“The items that I am selling now are collected from students and cooperative members. They include knitted items, key chains, and decorative items,” she said.
According to her, the school cooperative helped to generate additional income for the institution, especially for resources such as the school store and bookshop.
The carnival, she said was an eye-opener for her as cooperative carnivals often showcased entrepreneurial ventures and cooperative businesses.
“I believe that after school we have a choice to either embark on a career of choice or learn about the process of starting and running a business, the challenges faced, and the rewards of entrepreneurship,” she shared.
“I am inspired by this carnival and this exposure is a valuable experience for me as it can be an alternative career path for me in the future,” she shared.
Indeed, cooperative carnivals could offer students valuable insights into alternative careers by exposing them to diverse professions, providing firsthand information, aligning skills and interests, facilitating networking opportunities, offering entrepreneurial insights, providing practical skills workshops, and showcasing alternative education pathways.
These learnings could broaden students' career horizons and empower them to explore alternative paths that align with their interests, skills, and aspirations.
Meanwhile, MEDAC Minister Datuk Ewon Benedick during the event advised cooperatives to seek professional guidance and support from the Malaysian Cooperative Commission this year as this could enable them to access development assistance in the form of the SKM program or revolving capital financing.
This financial aid would enable cooperatives to enhance their business activities and align with the goals outlined in the Malaysian Cooperative Transformation Plan for 2021-2025.
Entrepreneurs were encouraged to leverage the expertise of various agencies such as TEKUN, SME Corp, SME Bank, Bank Rakyat, and Coopbank under the Ministry.
These agencies provide services to ensure the sustainability of businesses across the region.